Back from Oaxaca

Filed Under (Activism) by Estee on 07-01-2013

I was in Oaxaca, Mexico the past couple of weeks. I apologize for not getting to the blog to publish some of the comments that came up while I was away. I didn’t have great internet access. I managed to rest, read a lot (Susan Sontag, Derrida, Barthes…and ended my journal with Oliver Sack’s own Oaxaca Journal.). Before I left for vacation, I did a bit of writing on Sacks, and am working on the essay for publication.

The last day in Oaxaca, we wondered the markets and mingled with locals. I would have loved to have stayed longer as I wanted to engage with one man in particular begging for money with a severe disability. I wanted to talk and engage, not just hand out money and walk away. I knew our langauge differences would have been challenging. We looked at each other I stopped and said “Ola,” and he did so in return. I would have lingered but my Spanish is terrible. Then, the Saturday crowd, market smells and heat carried us away.

When I woke up in Toronto this morning I thought of how our autism “charities” need to engage in ethical discussions about how we relate to people with disabilities; how we need to do it in real time and in our discussions on websites. Autism charities are not experts in autism (I’m talking more of the ones lead by non autistic people. We don’t have a solid theory about what autism is, per se. I contend that it is a social construction and while we have an obligation to assist many people in a variety of ways). We should not espouse answers for autistic people without them. We have a collective responsibility to engage and to discuss the ethical implications of the Autism Genome Project, about Inclusion, rights, social justice, “treatment” and education. Autism and disability charities can engage with greater ethical discussions with the disability organizations that engage in these issues. We need autism organizations to interact with them.

I wake to snow in my own city, and to more work.

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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.